Literacy: not just for schools, anymore

Headshot of Commissioner Stephen Bowen.It’s time for a new school year, and here at the Maine DOE we’re continuing the work of our strategic plan.

In a few weeks, the Department will launch its birth-to-adult literacy initiative, Literacy for ME, and we’re hoping to get the whole state involved.

In late September, the Department will be offering six one-day regional meetings to explain how to implement and develop comprehensive literacy plans in local communities and we hope that you will consider helping to create a local team to participate in one of these sessions and set your community on the road to a local plan for action. Well-represented planning teams made up of members that span the birth to adult continuum are encouraged to sign-up. To view the full meeting schedule and register your team by the September 17 deadline, please visit the project’s website.

Literacy experts statewide have been working together for more than a year to compile resources and write the new literacy plan. Comprehensive literacy planning allows communities to compile literacy support resources already available, to coordinate those resources to ensure adequate support is in place across the birth to adult span, and to identify and address gaps that may exist locally.

Literacy skills are necessary in order to be work-ready in the 21st century, and learning literacy starts before students enter school and continues well into adulthood. Ensuring that all Maine residents are able to read, write, and think critically is the responsibility of everyone in the state—families, schools, community partners and state organizations.

Back in July, Governor LePage and I unveiled the ABC plan, the Department’s new focus on improving achievement growth in Maine by prioritizing three core areas: Accountability, Best Practices, and Choice. In terms of test scores, literacy is one area in which we know Maine has lost ground. Now’s the time for us to share best practices – resources, teaching methods, etc. – as we join in this unprecedented effort to expand literacy and learning across our state.